Next week will be a year since the story about a homeless veteran allegedly using his last $20 to buy gas for a stranded motorist. The sob story went viral and captured the hearts of the nation. It turns out that the “heartwarming” story is allegedly a complete sham to scam money from benevolent people.
The three people involved in the reported ruse are expected to have charges including conspiracy and theft by deception filed against them. Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure from Florence, New Jersey, allegedly cooked up the con job to swindle the public out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They concocted the heartwarming story of homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt giving Kate his last $20 to get gas after her car ran out of fuel on I-95 in Philadelphia last November.
McLure and D’Amico set up a GoFundme account with their sob story to pull at the heartstrings and wallets of charitable people. The narrative went viral and the crowdfunding campaign raised $402,706 from more than 14,000 people. However, the story soured when the couple allegedly were taking all of the money donated to Bobbitt and spending it on a BMW and on luxury vacations to Florida and Las Vegas. Bobbitt, who is a homeless Marine veteran battling drug addiction, filed a lawsuit in September that the couple was stealing the funds and he only received $75,000.
Two months ago, police raided the couple’s home in Florence Township, N.J., and towed away their new BMW and confiscated several bags and boxes from the house. Prosecutors say that the event was a “fictitious story.” D’Amico and McClure reportedly surrendered to authorities on Wednesday, but there was no update on Bobbitt’s status. Ernest Badway, an attorney for D’Amico and McClure, as well as Bobbitt’s attorney, Chris Fallon, had no comment on their clients. Sadly, this will only hurt legitimate crowdfunding efforts by struggling people who desperately need funds because donators will be skeptical in giving away their money.